The Role of the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office as dominus litis in the Fight Between the Corruption Eradication Commission and the Indonesian National Police

By Adery Ardhan Saputro S.H. (Researcher with the Indonesian Justice Monitoring Community of the University of Indonesia Faculty of Law – MAPPI FHUI), Thursday, 5 February 2015

Background

The chaos occurring now between two Indonesian law enforcement agencies, the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi or KPK) and the Indonesian National Police (Polisi Republik Indonesia or POLRI), was triggered by the decision of the Corruption Eradication Commission to declare Police Commissioner General Budi Gunawan a suspect in a corruption investigation. It should be noted as well that Gunawan was also a candidate for promotion to national police chief, announced by President Joko Widodo and approved by House of Representative Commission III. Several days later officers of the Indonesian National Police declared Corruption Eradication Commission Deputy Head Bambang Widjojanto a suspect in a criminal investigation in relation to allegations he had obtained false statements from a witness, in breach of Articles 242 and 55 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, during a Constitutional Court case. The case concerned the disputed election for District Head of West Kotawaringin Regency in Central Kalimantan Province in 2010.

Upon the arrest of Widjojanto, anti-corruption activists and members of the public reacted strongly, flocking to the Corruption Eradication Commission’s offices and protesting strongly over the police action, widely regarded as an arbitrary abuse of power. The storm of protest and controversy has even destabilized the country, evidenced by the statement of head of the Indonesian Armed Forces’ public relations unit Major General Fuad Basya that, “the military is ready to secure the Corruption Eradication Commission’s offices in the event the Police decide to raid the Commission.” President Joko Widodo on the other hand has not taken any meaningful action, afraid of appearing to intervene improperly in a law enforcement issue.

Friction between two investigative agencies is common in other countries. In the United States for example, a dust up over the authority to investigate narcotics cases between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has broken out on a number of occasions. However, this friction doesn’t cause such serious problems because hierarchically both agencies are directly under the authority of the US Attorney General. The Attorney General in fact has a critical role and is vital to the criminal justice system. A situation such as the controversy now being referred to in Indonesia as “KPK vs POLRI” would not be possible in the United States.

Position and Duties of the Attorney General in Indonesia’s Code of Criminal Procedure

If we reflect on the situation in Indonesia, even though the Attorney General’s Office is generally seen as holding the position of dominus litis, in this controversy it has not taken any meaningful steps to act as intermediary in the fracas. This is clear from the statement of the head of the Attorney General’s public information office Tony Spontana that, “We are guided solely by the Code of Criminal Procedure and we don’t want to be drawn into the polemic. The Attorney General’s Office is currently preparing to issue a direction appointing an investigating prosecutor to be assigned to monitor developments in the investigation.”

From Spontana’s statement we can draw a number of conclusions. 1. The Attorney General’s Office can only monitor and issue directions in relation to the result of an examination of a case file prepared by the Police. 2. The Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits the Attorney General’s Office from becoming directly involved in an investigation conducted by the Police. 3. The relationship between the police as investigator and the Attorney General’s Office according to the Code of Criminal Procedure is limited to functional coordination only. In the light of this, based solely on the Code of Criminal Procedure, Spontana’s argument can be regarded as appropriate, which is to say the authority of the Attorney General’s Office is limited to only monitoring a police investigation and does not extend to the supervision of a police investigation into a case. This is because the principle of functional differentiation on which the Code of Criminal Procedure is founded is the root cause of the problem of frequent friction between the two investigative agencies.

In relation to the police case against KPK Commissioner Bambang Widjojanto, the principle of functional differentiation will lead to significant problems in the future especially for the institution of the Attorney General’s Office. The institution of an attorney general which investigates solely on the basis of case files alone without being permitted to conduct investigations directly can create obstacles to the presentation of  evidence during court hearings. Assuming the case file for the Bambang Widjojanto investigation is regarded as complete by the Attorney General’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office would issue a P-21 Form on the basis of evidence obtained during the investigation. Later at the trial phase, should it become known that in fact some of the items of evidence were obtained other than in accordance with the law, or even, that a certain number of witness statements provided to investigators had been coerced, this could have the implication that the provision of evidence by the prosecution was less than optimal with a reduction in the evidence available for use by the public prosecutor to prove the guilt of the accused.

So there is a need for a strong connection between public prosecutors and cases being brought against accused persons which is not simply limited to an examination of case files, or merely to the provision of guidance to investigators. Rather, prosecutors should be able to conduct investigations directly (opsporing) or at least be able to conduct follow-up investigations (nasporing) in relation to enquiries already undertaken by investigators. The aim of this would be for prosecutors to be able to establish how investigators obtained evidence in a case and at the same time to establishing whether a suspect really was a party worth taking to trial.

In contrast, the position and duties of the Attorney General’s Office as dominus litis is in fact very clear in the provisions of the Revised Indonesian Code (Herziene Indonesisch Reglement or HIR). While the HIR remained in force, an investigation was an inseparable part of a prosecution. This authority establishes the Prosecuting Investigator as public prosecutor to be both the coordinator of an investigation and also as having the ability to conduct its own investigations. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office was in the position of a key institution in the overall process of criminal law enforcement from beginning to end.

With the repeal of the HIR by the Code of Criminal Procedure, the authority of the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations (opsporing) has been de-legitimised indirectly by the Code. However, the authority of the Attorney General’s Office as dominus litis did not disappear immediately with the repeal of the HIR. This is because of Article 27, paragraph (1), subparagraph (d) of Law No. 5/1991 concerning the Attorney General’s Office which provides that: “(1) In the area of crime, the attorney general’s office has the task of and authority to: (d) complete a particular case file and for this supplementary inquiries can be conducted before being transferred to the court which in their conduct are coordinated by the investigator.”

This provision clearly affirms that the attorney general has the authority to conduct additional investigations (nasporing). This authority affirms that the attorney general continues to constitute the agency in control of a case even at the investigation stage. This is also provided for by Article 30 paragraph (1), subparagraph (d) of Law 16/2004 concerning the Indonesian Attorney General. So the attorney general does in fact have the authority to carry out additional enquiries (nasporing) and as a result, the attorney general has the authority to ensure that investigations carried out by investigators have been conducted properly.

Thus although the Criminal Procedure Code appears to provide for the attorney general having a merely functional coordinating role in investigations which are to be conducted by the police, in fact if one relies on Article 30, paragraph (1), subparagraph (d) of Law No. 16/2004, in fact the Attorney General is able to take action beyond that of merely monitoring the results of police investigations or examining case files based on witness testimony alone. Quite the contrary, the Attorney General’s Office may take a more important role in the process of the inquiry into the case of Commissioner Bambang Widjojanto by way of additional inquiries into the relevant witnesses or suspects.

Quite apart from the attorney general being able to conduct additional inquiries, the writer is of the view that there are still problems in our criminal justice system. This is illustrated by the possibility of conflict between law enforcement agencies in dealing with an investigation. The current dispute indicates that the differentiation and the independence of each law enforcement agency in handling cases represents a conceptual mistake. Because of this there is a need for change in the criminal justice system in Indonesia to minimize friction between law enforcement institutions.

Integrated Criminal Justice System Reform

Change in the roles and duties of the Attorney General’s Office has in fact been accommodated by the proposed Criminal Procedure Code Bill. This is evident from the provisions of Article 46, paragraph (3) and (4).

Article 46 paragraph (3): If the public prosecutor still finds deficiencies in relation to a case file, the public prosecutor may ask the investigator to conduct additional investigations by giving instructions directly or can conduct additional inquiries prior to transferring to the court the implementation of which is coordinated with the investigator.

Article 46 paragraph (4): In subsequent case inquiries if necessary certain legal action to facilitate the conduct of hearings in court or the execution of judicial decisions, the public prosecutor can take legal action himself or ask for investigation assistance to be conducted.

These two articles affirm that the public prosecutor represents the party in control of a case at the investigation stage, even though the case is conducted by a different agency. The writer would add that despite the expanded authority of the attorney general in coordinating investigations, the Bill is not yet able to make the position of the attorney general into that of mediator in the event that the problem of sectoral egos arises between law enforcement agencies in the conduct of a case.

In relation to this problem, solutions can be suggested from the example of criminal justice systems in other countries. Examples include: 1. Coordination between police and prosecutors in the Netherlands is provided for by the Wet Bijzondere opsporingsbevoegd-heden, the Special Powers of Investigation Act or BOB, which came into force on 1 February 2000. This provides that the public prosecutor’s office is the appropriate agency to lead a criminal investigation. 2. Changing the hierarchy and position of the attorney general in Indonesia to be like that in the United States. By positioning the attorney general to be at the same time the Minister of Justice representing the highest agency in control of a case and the use of one investigation warrant (Surat Perintah Pemeriksaan or SPP).

Hopefully the case between the Corruption Eradication Commission and the Indonesian National Police will create momentum for improvement in the criminal justice system in Indonesia. At the same time hopefully it will be a forum that demonstrates the role of the Indonesian Attorney General as the dominus litis agency which is in control of criminal cases. Finally it is to be hoped that reform of the criminal justice system and the future operation of the criminal justice system will be based solely on legal perspectives without being influenced by considerations of a political nature.

 


Source: Peran Kejaksaan Ri Sebagai Dominus Litis Dalam Kekisruhan KPK Vs Polri

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